DIXFIELD — Years of experience have taught Spruce Mountain coach Scott Bessey that nothing comes easy at Defoe Gymnasium.

It didn’t help the Phoenix’s cause when Dirigo (2-6) started dropping 3-pointers like the impending falling snow that was in the overnight forecast.

But Spruce Mountain (8-1) worked around the Cougars’ impressive defense and shrugged off a cold start to distance itself in the second half and snatch a 57-40 victory in a Mountain Valley conference boys’ basketball game Monday night.

“We haven’t been in this gym in six or seven years, and obviously I am a Jay Tiger,” Bessey said. “Coming into this gym, I don’t care what anybody’s record is. I really don’t. I put very little on looking at the results and the scores they have had in the past. I knew it was going to be tough. I know we are very talented team. I know they are gritty, tough team.

“Something about coming into this gym, I knew it was going to be difficult, and it was. That first half was a grind. They played really physical.”

Dirigo was right at home in the first half, and thanks to some pin-point shooting from the perimeter built at 14-8 lead after one quarter. The Cougars sent nine 3-pointers through the basket for the night.


But when the Cougars’ shooting slowly cooled off late in the second half, Spruce made its move and went into halftime with a 28-24 lead.

Senior guard Kayle Stewart had no problem adjusting to the Defoe’s intense atmosphere. Stewart knocked down five 3-pointers and scored 17 of his game-high 26 points in a spectacular second half. Senior forward Tate Walton followed up with his 11 points.

When the third quarter rolled around, the Phoenix were soaring with 43-29 lead going into the fourth.

Dirigo junior guard Chandler Redmond scored the team-high 13 points and hit three 3-pointers. Teammate Jeremy St. Germain added 10 points.

“We got the looks we wanted,” Dirigo coach Cody St. Germain said. “We are a good 3-point shooting team. I expected a lot of those to go in. We just got killed on the boards. That’s what it was. We didn’t battle and that has been a problem with us all year. I felt like with the rebounding column the way it was and turnovers, other than that we played pretty well.

“Like I just told the guys, there is probably four or five teams right now that are right up there, and any one of them could be the best team in the league. I just told them that could be the best team in the league. They just lost to Hall-Dale by one point.

“I was happy with our defensive effort,” St. Germain continued. “We got the stops we wanted, but we just didn’t finish with a block out. Like I told the guys, we can’t hang our heads at this point because we have a lot of big games coming up that are winnable and we have had a tough schedule so far.”


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